By Ken Richards
BASSETERRE, St Kitts (WINN) -- Opposition alliance Team Unity is calling for the resignations of St Kitts and Nevis’ education and health ministers.
Leader of the opposition People's Action Movement MP Shawn Richards
At a town hall meeting on Thursday night, People's Action Movement (PAM) leader Shawn Richards made it clear that Team Unity wants Education Minister Nigel Carty and Health Minister Marcella Liburd to step down, over the handling of the Basseterre High School health crisis that has affected both students and teachers.
Serious government attention to the matter over the past several days has resulted in the Basseterre High School being shut down.
Consultation between the two ministries concerned, the teachers and their union and parents led to agreement that the Basseterre High students would be allowed to complete the school year by sharing the Washington Archibald High School campus on a split shift system.
However, Richards told Thursday’s town hall meeting that a solution could have been found much earlier to the problem of teachers and students becoming ill if Carty had acted speedily on earlier complaints.
He said Carty instead took to essentially ignoring the problem and ascribing political motives to those who spoke out about the situation.
“I am of the view that no one should have to call upon Nigel Carty to resign as minister of education. If he has any decency, if he has any respect for the children he would immediately resign as minister of education,” Richards told Team Unity supporters.
He said too that if the minister fails to do that “Denzil Douglas ought to remove Nigel Carty as minister for education”.
Carty is reportedly on sick leave and health minister Liburd has over the past week been the Cabinet minister in the forefront of dealing with the health crisis at Basseterre High.
Prior to that the main government official who had been dealing with the matter was Carty.
According to Richards, Liburd too should step down for not having been more active earlier in trying to resolve the matter.
He also accused her of neglecting her constituents because some of the children affected by the problem are from her constituency.
Another PAM/Team Unity official also supported the resignation calls.
Lindsay Grant, whose son goes to Basseterre High and is one of the students who fell ill because of the situation there, accused the authorities of dragging their feet on the matter instead of being much more pro-active.
“What makes me angry … (is) the arrogance of Nigel Carty in saying that the teachers and the students they are seeing things,” Grant said.
The Team Unity official says he has had to spend quite a sum of money on the health problems experienced by his son at the Basseterre High School.
Basseterre High was closed last week when the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI) expressed concern that ongoing health issues among staff and students were unresolved.
Though the ministry of health had declared the campus safe for occupancy the week before, CARIRI was not prepared to give the school the all clear, in light of a number of discoveries since it conducted tests there in 2012.
CARIRI has said that these and other subsequent observations were not considered during its original visit.
Republished with permission of West Indies News Network